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Tulip Garden Update: April 9, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

Spring Halfway in Haines, Alaska

Spring's Progress as of 4/8/1999

Tulips have emerged in 36 new gardens this week, including the first in Alaska! Well, sort of: "Half of our tulips emerged. The other half are buried in deep snow," reports Ms. Randles. "(The half that emerged were near a north facing wall of a building.)" (pam@mosquitonet.com)

Today's Garden Data

We wondered how the Official Journey North garden in Anchorage was doing, so we wrote to ask, "Have your tulips emerged?"

"Ha! Ha Ha!" replied from Mike Sterling at Sand Lake Elementary.

De Tulpen Staan in Bloei
Meanwhile, 38 new gardens came into bloom--and this message arrived from Holland:

"'De tulpen staan in bloei,' wrote Erik Monninkhof, who planted a Journey North garden with his family near Amsterdam. "In the next couple of weeks, hundreds of acres will be blooming at the farmers, changing the countryside into a carpet of different colors. (Unfortunately, the farmers take the flower off of the tulip as soon as it starts blooming.)" (erik@monninkhof.nl)

Challenge Question #14
"Why do you suppose Dutch farmers do this? Why remove the blooms!?"

and another curious thing:

Challenge Question #15
"Why do you think tulips are already BLOOMING in Holland (52 N) when they are only EMERGING across the ocean, in places like Burlington, VT (44 N) and Franklin, NH (43 N)?

(To respond to these questions, please follow the instructions below.)

Growing Under the Snow
Discussion of Challenge Question #
In our last report, we asked "Could tulips that were buried under the cold, cold snow have been growing?"

Students in Vermont know all about snow:

"We know that tulips under the cold, cold snow can be growing. We know this because we saw it happen at our school. This happens because snow is insulation. Insulation will keep the temperatures from changing so quickly. As the ground starts to thaw, snow will keep the ground from freezing again. Wind can make the temperature drop quite a bit and the snow will keep the tulips from freezing."
Mrs Thurber's 3rd grade

Kyle and Forrest in Canton, OH were thinking along the same lines:

"We think tulips can grow under the snow because, once the ground has thawed, the snow acts like an insulation to keep the heat in and the cold out." (pjones@ccd-school.org)

Where is the Heat Coming From?
So, everyone seems to agrees that, even though snow is cold, it can act as a blanket. But wait, where is the heat coming from? Is the air thawing the ground, and then the snow keeping the ground warm? How do you explain this?

During the cold winter at the Journey North Headquarters in Minnesota, we dug through the snow and read the soil thermometer.

Challenge Question #16
"When the air temperature was 2 degrees F BELOW zero, why do you think the soil temperature was 27 degrees F ABOVE zero? Where was the heat coming from?"


  • Our tulip bulbs were buried 7 inches deep.
  • There were 16 inches of snow on the ground.
  • You can look at the thermometers if you don't believe it! The soilthermometer is reading the temperature 7 inches underground, the same depth at which our bulbs were planted.
  • You might want to draw a picture to help think this through.

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions

question in each e-mail message!

1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-tulip@learner.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #14
(or Challenge Question # 15 or #16)
3. In the body of EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Tulip Garden Update Will be Posted on April 23, 1999.

Copyright 1999 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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